We shelter inside air-conditioned spaces all summer long, just trying to find respite from the heat. Now that Houston finally has some cooler weather, there's no shortage of fun things to do in and around town. We've got celebrations in Galveston, Levy Park and downtown, new performances with the Houston Ballet and 4th Wall Theatre Company, a chance to ogle expensive Ferraris, more holiday lights and even rumors of a ghost in the Heights. Keep reading because quite a few of these events are free.
Remember how excited we got when colorful LED lights were installed on the 59 bridges before the Super Bowl? Well, LOOP Houston is even more amazing, and the zoetrope-inspired flipbooks are activated by human power so we can make the retro-futuristic machines go as fast or slow as we want. It first debuted in Montreal as part of the 7th edition of Luminothérapie and the video (above) shows the installation during its stop in New York. It opens at Avenida Houston this Friday and remains up through the holidays.
8 a.m.-11 a.m. daily, November 30-January 6, 2019, Avenida Houston, 1001 Avenida de las Americas, avenidahouston.com/event/loop/58056, free.
We've seen Houston Ballet Principal Dancer Melody Mennite in Stanton Welch's Marie, as Nikya in La Bayadère, Odette/Odile in Swan Lake and Spring in The Four Seasons, but now it's time for her to shine as a choreographer. Houston audiences will catch her new work in Friday's Margaret Alkek Williams Jubilee of Dance, a one-night-only showcase that lets company members dance excerpts from signature works and favorite classics. It's also an anniversary celebration for Principal Ian Casady; he joined the Company 20 years ago this year.
7 p.m. November 30, Wortham Theater Center, 501 Texas, 713-227-2787, houstonballet.org, $75 to $125.
Dickens on The Strand runs all three days this weekend, and Galveston has really dialed up the Victorian theme for this 45th iteration with new pubs and entrance decor, plus all the street and stage performances we've come to expect. Don't miss Albert’s Whimsical Whisker Revue, where members of the Austin Facial Hair Club will judge the best of the bearded and dandy. Sunday's Dickens Victorian Bed Races are one of the most popular events and it looks like the team from Tall Ship Elissa is the one to beat. Insider tip: Wear a Victorian costume for half price adult admission.
5-9 p.m. November 30 (free admission), 10 a.m.-9 p.m. December 1, noon-6 p.m. December 2, The Strand, Mechanic Street and Market Street, Galveston, galvestonhistory.org/events/dickens-on-the-strand/dickens-on-the-strand-3, free to $15.
Pride and Prejudice has graced library shelves, movie theaters (with zombies!) and television screens courtesy of PBS, but this time around 4th Wall Theatre Company is bringing us the Houston premiere of playwright Kate Hamill's fast-paced adaptation, a postmodern spoof that earned her Wall Street Journal's Playwright of the Year in 2017. Don't worry romance fans, Mr. Darcy is back, and the handsome heartbreaker is being played by Justin Doran with Kim Tobin-Lehl directing. This burlesque-style Pride and Prejudice might have some dance moves, gags and slapstick, but it also maintains all of Jane Austen's sense and sensibility.
7:30 p.m. November 30 and December 1, 3 p.m. December 2. Continues through December 22 at 4th Wall Theatre Company, Studio 101, 1824 Spring, 832-786-1849, 4thwalltheatreco.com, $17 to $53 (December 17 is pay what you can).
It looks like ghost season isn't completely over. This year's 2018 Holiday Home Tour, presented by the Houston Heights Association, includes an early 1900s Victorian home that not only has been completely remodeled, it reportedly is still inhabited by a ghost named Emily. This year's theme is "When all through the House" and the five homes on the tour have been beautifully decorated for the holidays.
6-9 p.m. November 30, 3-9 p.m. December 1, pick up tickets at Heights Fire Station (107 West 12th), Buchanan's Native Plants (611 East 11th) or Jubilee (325 West 19th), houstonheights.org/event/holiday-tour, $25.
Mayor Sylvester Turner sure knows how to throw a party, and the host with the most has lined up The Voice winner Alisan Porter (season ten) for the 99th Annual Mayor's Holiday Celebration and Tree Lighting Presented by Reliant. It's got music, a 65-foot holiday tree, fireworks and — best of all — it's completely free. Kids can get their snaps with Santa Claus in The Gingerbread Village and everybody can enjoy performances from local choir and dance groups. Pay it forward by bringing a new, unwrapped toy to the Salvation Army booth for children in need and walk away with a light-up Santa hat, courtesy of Reliant.
6-8 p.m. November 30, Hermann Square, City Hall, 901 Bagby, 832-393-0868, houstontx.gov/mayorsholiday, free.
Upper Kirby's dog-friendly park is celebrating with a two-day party and everybody, including Fido, is invited. Levy Park Holiday Festival kicks off at noon this Saturday with a photo booth, an ugly sweater contest for dogs, live music, musical bells by Houston Bonze Ensemble, a DIY craft station and a vendor market. They've also got photos with Santa Paws and Santa Claus. Feeling hungry? Nosh on snacks from Balls Out Burger and Coffee Q and enjoy the outdoors in this vibrant urban space.
Noon to 5 p.m. December 1-2, Levy Park, 3801 Eastside, 713-522-7275, levyparkhouston.org, free.
Worried about gaining a few pounds from all those holiday cookies and candies? It's time to get physical with Cigna Sunday Streets - Main Street Holiday Edition and this family-friendly event is taking it downtown. The route is closed to cars, making it safe for us to cycle, walk, run, dance and socialize under the festive holiday decor along Main Street. They've got 30-foot holiday trees, sparkly pole decorations, thousands of twinkle lights and several selfie opps. The December route is anchored by Market Square Park, Discovery Green and Avenida Houston, so put on your warm (or ugly) Christmas sweater, put streamers and bells on your bike, and enjoy music, hot chocolate, Santa Claus and interactive art installations.
The Ferrari Festival is back with a new look and a new location. Head over to the River Oaks District this Sunday afternoon to ogle more than 70 Ferraris. Organizers Ferrari of Houston, Risi Competizione and Ferrari Club of America/Houston expect thousands of visitors. The tiny tots will have fun playing games in the Kid Zone (near Hopdoddy) while grown-ups will leave with some serious ride envy.
10 a.m.-2 p.m. December 2, River Oaks District, 4444 Westheimer, houstonferrarifestival.com, free.
Technically not the weekend, but with some creative time-shifting this is still a worthy Monday night event. Come witness a glow in the dark Chanukah when Chabad of Uptown hosts its annual Post Oak Menorah Lighting. It all takes place at the "sofa park" near San Felipe and South Post Oak Lane, with crafts for kids and a chance to buy snacks and gifts.
6:30 p.m. December 3, San Felipe Boulevard at South Post Oak Lane, facebook.com/events/2176834532567457, free.